Saskatchewan’s Wall urges oil industry to fight celebrity critics with ‘facts’

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REGINA — Saskatchewan’s premier is urging the oil and gas industry to do a better job selling itself or risk losing the battle for public opinion to celebrity critics who he says have unrealistic ideas on how quickly the world can kick carbon.

Brad Wall told the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association there is a growing, vocal minority that want the industry shut down completely and they are influencing policy-makers.

“We’re at some disadvantage when it comes to this argument. The other side has great scientific minds speaking out for them, like Neil Young and Daryl Hannah,” Wall said Thursday, referencing the rock singer and “Splash” actress who have been outspoken in their opposition to the oilsands and pipelines.

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“We don’t have a lot of glamour on our side … but here is something else we have. We have facts.

“I humbly suggest to this group today that we urgently redouble our efforts to present the facts, to be disseminators of them, to be purveyors of the truth.”

Wall said resource proponents need to emphasize the steps Canada takes to protect the environment through advancements in technology such as carbon capture and storage. And the pipeline industry must also emphasize safety advantages to transporting oil by pipe rather than rail.

He said while getting the world off fossil fuels is a laudable goal, it’s “magical thinking” to believe that it can be done quickly and painlessly.

Renewable resource technology is getting better, he said, but it’s not at the point where it can be solely relied upon, especially at peak times. 

“Have you noticed that there is just not as many people calling for an end to fossil fuels in January in Canada?,” he said. “I’ve certainly noticed that. The fact is, with current technology, renewables can take us only so far right now.”

Wall, who is facing an election in his province next year, has been an outspoken supporter of the oil and gas industry — including the proposed Energy East and Keystone XL pipelines — and he’s taken on that role with increased vigour since the election of an NDP government in neighbouring Alberta.

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